Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
RED DEER – With three powerplay goals and a perfect penalty kill, the MacEwan Griffins dominated the special teams battle in beating Red Deer College 6-2 for a second-straight night on Saturday.
Brett Smythe book-ended the victory with man advantage tallies in the first and third periods as the Griffins (6-1-1-0) surged ahead of RDC (5-2-0-1) into top spot in the ACAC standings.
"I thought the difference in the hockey game and really the weekend in general was the special teams," said MacEwan head coach Michael Ringrose, whose squad also scored on the powerplay in Friday's 6-2 win over the Kings in Edmonton. "We scored three times on the powerplay. If you look at the score that was the difference in the game.
"We were perfect on the PK on the weekend," he added. "That's a very good team, they've got a lot of offensive weapons. For our penalty kill to shut their powerplay down and for us to play the way we did on the powerplay … you're going to have success if your special teams were the way ours were this weekend."
The combination of Smythe and Ryan Baskerville was lethal for the Griffins on Saturday as they combined for five points.
"Smythe had an unbelievable weekend," said Ringrose. "He was exceptional on both sides of the puck. He had a hot hand, was putting pucks towards the net. His attention to detail was very good for us all weekend. He and Ryan Baskerville play really well together. Basky's been great for us no matter where we play him all year."
In fact, Baskerville, now with 13 points in eight games, has moved into a tie for the ACAC scoring lead.
Rookie Nicolas Correale also produced a three-point night for the Griffins (a goal and two assists), while also being a key figure on the penalty kill unit.
And rookie rearguard Andrew Kartusch stood out for the Griffins with a goal and an assist to go along with fine defensive play.
"On the back end we got lots of contributions," said Ringrose. "Tonight, Andrew Kartusch was the guy who stepped up and scored a huge goal for us and added an assist as well. It's nice when you have the depth and you're getting contributions from throughout your lineup.
"We were able to come at Red Deer in waves this weekend. Our scoring was spread out, but collectively I thought we got the job done."
Brett Njaa also scored for the Griffins while Marc-Olivier Daigle made 22 saves for the victory. Just Chase Thudium and Donovan Lumb beat him in the first period before MacEwan took control of the contest.
"You go through the league and the difference between winning and losing is very small," said Ringrose. "We were fortunate to get the four points this weekend, but that's a team … that has a lot of high-end skill and they play the game with a lot of pace.
"Every time we play them, we circle it on our calendar because we're going to need our best stuff."
The Griffins now head into a bye weekend before resuming league play against UAlberta-Augustana on Nov. 9-10, the latter being a home match (6 p.m., Downtown Community Arena).